MLA’s grandmother spent five days on a stretcher at SSRH

by Karen Janigan

Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland got personal during question period on March 21 when asking about the care her grandmother received after spending five days on a gurney in an emergency examining room with another sick patient.

The 84-year-old went to South Shore Regional Hospital by ambulance as she was having trouble breathing and was treated for pneumonia and congestive heart failure when she arrived.

But Masland said her grandmother never made it into a hospital room from the Tuesday when she arrived to the Friday of that same week when Masland visited her.

"My grandmother was in a very small examining room. She was still on a gurney bed shoved up beside the wall so she wouldn't fall out, and behind a makeshift curtain there was another lady who sounded very ill. She was coughing a lot.

"When I questioned my grandmother as to why she was still in emergency, she became very upset and said that there were no beds and that she had been there since Tuesday. She hadn't rested just because of the noise and commotion of the emergency department and it was so busy.... We're asking our frontline health care professionals to do an impossible job."

When a nurse came in to tend to the other patient she was wearing a mask, but Masland's grandmother had no extra protection.

"I questioned the nurse and was told it was because the other patient sharing the room with my grandmother had a contagious condition. So that certainly sparked a lot of concern for me. I asked the question 'How is this infection control' and was told 'It's not.'"

The other thing that concerned Masland is that her grandmother was forced to walk down the hall in a johnny shirt and visit the general bathroom in the emergency department if she had to go.

"Again, that is not infection control,' said Masland in an interview.

The SSRH was unable to respond to LighthouseNOW's questions by deadline.

Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey responded to Masland's question in the legislature about her grandmother's treatment.

"Of course, that's not a scenario any of us would endeavour to want our hospital system to be operating towards. What we do know is, there's been a lot of public recognition of this fact that we did have a higher, more intense impact of the flu season this year which did increase the pressures on our hospital systems, especially amongst vulnerable populations - that is, those populations more vulnerable to the flu this year."

The answer did not sit well with Masland.

"This patient was too ill to be at home, but she was too ill to be in hospital placed in the conditions that she was in. Let me be very, very clear the nurses and doctors were wonderful to her, there was just no bed available to her. The system of flow for our hospitals are jammed. Our beds are filled with seniors waiting for long-term care placement. Then we see a budget this week that does not have one new long-term care bed planned. None," she said.

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